Cherry Blossom Watch Update: January 30, 2017

We had a little snow last night. Just enough to be pretty without causing any headaches. But with January closing out it'll end up being warmer than normal for the month. That's on the back of a December where average temperatures were also above normal.

We haven’t had much snow this winter—well below average. We got a little last night. It was more than a dusting but not enough to cause any major headaches. Most areas seem to have gotten somewhere around an inch.

As often happens when the temperatures are borderline for snow, the accumulation around the Tidal Basin is a bit less than some areas nearby. It’s presumably due to the residual warmth (relatively speaking) of the water in the Tidal Basin that raises temperatures in the immediate area just enough to have an effect. So there’s no much sticking in the area immediately around the Tidal Basin. But go just across the river, and there’s more consistent ground cover in Arlington. You can see an example in the shot below of the Iwo Jima Memorial that’s under a mile and a half from the Tidal Basin.

Last night’s snow aside, it’s been a warm January. With only a couple of days to go, it looks like we’ll close the month out somewhere around 6° above normal. On the back of a warmer than usual December, so far the trend has been for above-normal average temperatures. If that trend keeps up—and I emphasize that’s a very big if—it suggests an earlier than average bloom. (The historical average peak bloom date is around April 3-4.)

But that’s by no means a lock. In the lead up to the 2013 bloom, for example, we had warm temperatures through December and January, but then things turned cold and we still ended up with a late bloom (April 9). So there’s still plenty of time for things to change.

UPDATE: The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang predicts that February will be 3 to 5 degrees warmer than normal.

You can get a sense of how we’re tracking compared to other recent years with this table:

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2019-20+2.4+6.4+4.8+7.3*March 20
2018-19+3.8+1.2+3.2+0.0April 1
2017-18-0.5-0.3+6.3-3.2April 5
2016-17+2.1+6.1+8.7-0.7*March 25
2015-16+11.5-1.1+0.9+6.5*March 25
2014-15+4.0-0.4-8.7-1.5April 10
2013-14+2.6-3.8-1.2-3.9April 10
2012-13+5.9+4.3-0.7-3.0April 9
2011-12+4.9+4.7+5.3+10March 20
2010-11--1.3+3.6-0.9March 29
Data sources: National Weather Service / National Park Service.
ˤ = partial month, in progress
* = up until peak bloom

Photos from the Tidal Basin this Morning

Here are some photos from this morning.

Last updated January 31, 2017

View Comments

  • Wow, again this year we're thinking of the cherry blossoms and their peak early! I do hope things are not spoiled by freezing temperatures too near the blooming time, but it does look like night temps are predicted to be lower in early March, with more rain. Still, we've had another very mild winter, just on pace with last year's (although much less snow that MLK weekend of 2016's snowzilla!) and yet, that was almost the only real snow covering we got for 15-16 winter. So, with things going this way, if temps remain higher than normal and nothing huge disrupts blooms, I bet it WILL be an early peak!